Pour over coffee is fantastic.
If you want to bring out the brightness of a coffee the pour over brew method is where it’s at.
Pour overs give you, the brewer, ultimate control. You can control every variable that it takes to make a great cup of coffee.
The three major variables are:
- Coffee to water
- Water Temperature
- Contact time(between coffee and water)
All of these are part of the SCAA’s guidelines to a perfect cup.
A pour over brings out the true nature of the bean, so if you have a quality bean, you are doing yourself and the bean a favor by brewing coffee this way.
A pour over gives you an amazing tasting cup of coffee that brings you closer to the beans.
You will feel more connected to your drink.
You are actually crafting the coffee, you are building a personal relationship with the coffee and that’s what we need more of in this world.
This brewing method isn’t just about a quick energy fix.
It’s more than that.
This is an enjoyable process.
From smelling the freshly ground beans to watching the bloom take place.
Pouring the water in the exact spot you want. Being able to smell the coffee as the steam rises while you pour.
The sound of water dripping through at the exact pace that you want it to.
Ahhhh…it’s all so refreshing.
The benefits of pour over coffee don’t stop at just making a better tasting cup, they become emotional benefits as well.
Brewing this way can be an almost meditative process in the morning. If you have the extra 5-10 minutes to spare, you can really start your day off on the right foot.
A pour over brew first thing in the morning with the right mindset can set the rest of your day up for success.
By allowing the brewing process to pull you into the present moment and taking the time to appreciate all of the sounds, smells and tastes that a pour over brings to you is a really amazing way to begin your day.
Pour over coffee isn’t that hard
Making a pour over is something that is fun to do and you can pick it up quickly.
However, to master the brew method you need to brew and brew again while paying attention to the fine details.
The fine details are what make pour over coffee stand apart from coffee brewed by different methods.
A pour over brings out the brightness in the beans so this brew method is best for coffee’s that are grown at high altitude, roasted lightly and have lots of acidity. Beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala and El salvador are perfect.
What’s the difference between a pour over and a drip machine?
If you’re new to pour over coffee then you might be wondering why you should choose this brew method over your standard drip machine.
I mean it’s like the same thing right?
A pour over gives you so much more control over the flavor of your cup.
A pour over brew will be a much brighter more flavorful, and cleaner tasting cup when compared to any other brewing method.
Chris Chafin from theawl admits that there is something different about a cup made from a pour over. He says “it’s flavors are richer than drip coffee”
Since you have so much control over the whole experience it makes it easy to experiment and really dial in that perfect brew.
A big difference is that drip machines “drip” water onto the grounds in one spot as the water is heated and moved up a pipe in the coffee maker.
Brewing manually you can control the water flow exactly how you want it.
The water isn’t confined to one spot like it is in most drip machines.
Being able to control the water flow has a huge impact on extraction and overall flavor.
A big downside to drip machines is that the spout is stuck in one spot which creates a funnel where all of the water flows.
This means that water is flowing easily in that one spot and not as easily in other spots.
This gives you an uneven extraction which leads to inconsistent flavors in your cup.
Another major difference is control of water temperature.
Brewing a cup of coffee manually gives you complete control over the temperature of the water that you brew with which helps you bring out the very best in the coffee.
Another difference between the two methods is the amount of effort you have to put in.
While it’s true brewing pour over coffee is more labor-intensive than just adding your grounds and water and pressing the on button, what you put in in effort will be rewarded with excellent flavor.
Your taste buds will thank you for it.
There are a number of different pour over coffee brewers
There are a number of pour over brewers out there.The v60, the Chemex, the Kalita wave and then there are metal brewers like the coffee gator and Javapress. These are just a few, there are still tons more.
All of them have different designs which changed the brewing experience slightly.
What is the difference between them all?
- Two Sizes
- Paper Filters
- One drain hole
Probably the most popular pour over brewer on the list. The v60 is a cone-shaped brewer that uses a paper filter and comes in two sizes; 01 and 02(10oz and 20oz.) The brewer also comes in four different materials; ceramic, plastic, metal and glass. The metal copper one looks pretty bad ass. You will also notice that the inside of the brewer has ridges.
The purpose of these ridges according to SeriousEats “is to avoid channeling, [the ridges] are intended to keep water distributed evenly among the bed of coffee grounds.”
Channeling is what’s happening on most drip machines.
The V60 also differs from other brewers because it only has one large hole in the bottom which affects the brew time. This is not better or worse than any other brewer but something to make note of.It will cause you to alter some brew factors like grind size or pour rate. This brewer is really dependant on the pourer, it is easy to have a brew that is under extracted because of the design, which makes the flow rate high.
- Brews up to 10 cups
- Thicker filters(gives a cleaner cup)
Another very popular pour over coffee maker. This brewer also comes in 4 different sizes; 3,6,8, and 10 cup sizes. This pour over brewer allows you to make the largest quantity of all on the list which is nice if you are wanting to brew more than one or two cups at a time.
The Chemex doesn’t sit on top of a mug, the brewer is actually the carafe with the major difference being it’s filter. The paper filters for this brewer are much thicker than any other pour over brewer. Which alters the flavor of your cup by producing a super clean taste. This is because the thickness of the filter absorbs more coffee oils than any other filter. A thicker filter also affects brew time, not allowing water to flow as easily.
- Flat Bottom
- Three holes in the bottom
- Uses wavy filters
- Two sizes(155 and 185)
The Kalita wave is different from other brewers because of their “patented” wave filters.The specially designed filters along with the three drainage holes in the bottom of the flatbed brewer, as well as the ridges inside of the brewer all work together to provide you with an even extraction.
The ridges inside of the Kalita are different than the ridges inside of the v60. The Kalita ridges don’t increase flow rate like the v60 does taking away some of the pressure on the pourer.
This pour over coffee maker is friendly to the new homebrewer but also the experienced one as well. The design allows for repeatable results much easier than the V60 which is very pour dependent according to John Letoto at Prima Coffee.
Another reason that this brewer is friendly to the beginner is the shape.The Kalita does not come to a point at the bottom like the V60. The wider, shallower bed allows for a more even extraction throughout the bed of coffee.
Metal Pour Over brewers
No filters needed for these bad boys. Instead, these brewers use an ultra-fine stainless steel mesh to brew with. While that may seem like an advantage to some, others might disagree. Metal pour over brewers don’t need a filter to brew with which saves you money but, a paper filter also captures a lot of oils that add to a coffee’s flavor, some of them in a not so pleasant way. A paper filter is a part of what gives pour over coffee that clean, bright taste and metal filters take away from that. However, everybody’s taste buds are different and you might prefer a metal filter pour over, I don’t know. I can speak from experience and say that I definitely prefer a pour over that has been brewed with a paper filter.
Other tools you will need to make a perfect pour over coffee
No matter the brewer you choose you will need a few other tools to make your pour over coffee correctly. These tools are
- A gram scale
- A gooseneck kettle
- A timer
Converting everything to grams is the easiest way to ensure that you are brewing with the exact ratio that you want. A gram scale helps you dial in the perfect amount of water to coffee time and time again. You can find a lot of digital scales with timers built in which really come in handy when brewing coffee.
Another tool of the trade is a gooseneck kettle. There are lots of them out there, so many that it may be hard to choose.
Your purchase should be driven by your desire.
How in depth are you wanting to go?
Are you wanting to tinker with the brew temperature by making tiny micro adjustments of just a degree? Then get the Bonavita.
Do you want to know if you’re just in the ballpark? Then get the coffee gator kettle.
Or do you just want a gooseneck kettle without a thermometer to save a few bucks?
That’s not a bad option especially after watching this video by Chris Baca, they do a comparative tasting with water that is just coming off boil as well as water that has been off boil for a few minutes. Check out their results.
I will give you a little warning when buying a kettle like without a thermometer on it.
Water’s boiling point changes based on altitude. So depending on where you are your water may be boiling but at a lower temperature.
For instance waters normal boiling temperature is at 212 F but if you live in Colorado your water’s boiling temperature is approximately 203F.
So elevation is just something to look out for when getting a kettle without a thermometer.
How do you make pour over coffee?
Problems you may encounter with pour over coffee.
While pour over coffee is fantastic you will probably mess up a few brews at first.
This is completely normal, don’t let it discourage you. Brewing pour over coffee is an acquired skill.
There are a few problems that you will most likely run into so let’s go over them and their solutions.
Brew time is off
When brewing pour over coffee your brew time should be right around the 3 minute mark. You can swing one way or the other by 15 – 30 seconds and still be fine, it will all depend on the coffee you are brewing with.
But if you are finding that your brew time is too quick,giving you weak, flat, sour tasting coffee, then you can either adjust your pour, going with a slower pour or even trying out the pulse pour technique that Mat Perger, barista Champion has made famous.
Or you can make your grind finer, which doesn’t allow water to flow through the grounds as easily.
Is your coffee coming out too bitter to enjoy? This is a problem going the other way. Your brew time might be too long or your grind is too fine.
Try coarsening up your grind to allow water to flow easier through the coffee grounds.
Or try adjusting your ratio, you might be brewing with too much coffee.
Match your brewer to the amount of coffee you want to drink
Each brewer mentioned above comes in different sizes and you should try to match their size to how you prefer to drink coffee. For instance, if you like to brew coffee for multiple people don’t get a Kalita 155 or v60 01, those are single serve brewers that can only hold enough coffee for one cup. If you like multiple cups go with the Chemex, Kalita 185 or v60 02.
The v60 can be touchy
With the large single hole in the bottom and the channeled ridges on the side you can easily brew a v60 too quickly if you do not have a steady pour. This is why brewing with a v60 may be hard for a coffee newbie to get consistent results.
Pour over coffee is the bee’s knees, It’s popping up in lots of cafes and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
This is for good reason.
A pour over brew will give you amazing, clean and bright coffee, pulling out all of the best that the bean has to offer.
It’s the preferred brewing method forlightly roasted bean with lots of acidity.
And if you nail the brew its sure to impress even the pickiest coffee snob.
If you’re new to pour over coffee I think the easiest brewer to start with is the Kalita wave, It’s flat bottom design makes it easy to get repeatable results.
You need a few extra tools like a scale and a gooseneck kettle but you can piece together a decent pour over coffee kit that won’t break the bank and get you brewing like a barista in no time.